The joy that greeted the release of BBC 
journalist Alan Johnston in March after his
 three-month kidnapping ordeal at the hands
of Palestinian extremists provided the high 
point in an otherwise bleak year for journalism as the
 crisis of violence against media has intensified.

For the third year in succession, the IFJ reports an 
extremely high number of deaths of journalists and 
people who work with them. Many killings were 
targeted attacks, some were crossfire casualties in 
war zones, and others were deaths in accidents,
which are listed separately in this report.

The total of 172 is again dominated by the body count 
of Iraqi journalists in a war that has now accounted
 for more than 250 media killings according to the
 IFJ’s affiliate the Iraqi Syndicate of Journalists.

During 2007 some 65 died giving fresh urgency to
 efforts to put in place the Iraqi Media Safety Group,
a local self-help operation supported by the IFJ and
the International News Safety Institute. This group is 
now co-ordinating help to media to strengthen safety 
awareness and reduce the risks facing local journalists.

In Palestine, where the political divisions between 
Palestinians on the West Bank and those in Gaza have
 also affected the journalism community, the kidnapping
of Johnston galvanized divided local journalists who led
a vocal and unified campaign for his release. One of
t he first messages a relieved and tired Johnston gave
 on achieving his freedom was to recognise this effort,
which may well have saved his life.

In Africa 14 killings were recorded, some eight of
them in Somalia alone, a country where the tragedy of tribalism and lawlessness has caused chaos and 
where media are victimised when they try to report
 honestly on the tragic conditions within the country.

The launch of the African Federation of Journalists 
in Nigeria in November provides a vehicle for new
 efforts to challenge the killers and the corruption that
 weakens media and journalism across the continent.

Working with INSI out of Dakar in Senegal, the IFJ
 plans to expand safety training and support work for
media including the launch of an Africa Solidarity
 Fund, part of which will be directed towards helping 
the victims of violence and their families.

In the Americas 19 deaths were recorded, with
 Mexico continuing to dominate the list with six 
killings. Many of them journalists singled out
 because of their reporting on gangsters operating in
the country. In one horrifying case in October three
 workers were killed at El Imparcial del Istmo which 
had been receiving death threats over its reporting of
 drugs gangs.

In Asia there were 31 killings with. Political turbulence 
in Pakistan also accounted for new pressure on 
journalists during the year and eight deaths. Sri
Lanka (6) and the Philippines (5) also counted high 
numbers of victims.

Asia also provided a grim example of how the fate of
 kidnapped journalists and media staff often depends 
entirely on the support the victims can call upon.
 In March Daniele Mastrogiacomo of the Italian daily 
La Repubblica was kidnapped by Taliban fighters
in Afghanistan along with his fellow journalist and 
translator Ajmal Naqshbandi and driver 25-year-old
 Sayed Agha a father of four.

The Taliban immediately assessed the worth of their 
catch. Sayed Agha had his throat cut on the spot, 
a gruesome event witnessed by his two colleagues,
 with the kidnappers estimating there was no
 political or financial advantage in keeping him
 alive. Mastrogiacomo was later released thanks to a
 concerted drive by the Italian government pressed
 into action by the IFJ Italian affiliate the FNSI and with 
the support of the regime in Kabul. After negotiations, 
in which undisclosed money changed hands he
was set free. Ajmal Naqshbandi was less lucky. He
 was killed after the Afghan government refused to
 negotiate further.

This tragic event highlighted once again the perilous 
situation facing local media staff in a conflict zone –
they are among the most numerous of victims and the
least protected.

This report also contains a detailed report on the work
of the IFJ International Safety Fund, which is used
 to provide humanitarian support to the victims of
 violence and their families. During 2007 the IFJ Safety 
Fund has allocated around 5,000 euro in monthly
payments to families who lost breadwinners in some
 of the world’s most troubled spots such as Colombia, 
and Sri Lanka and made substantial donations to 
journalists’ families in Somalia, Iraq and Palestine as
 well as a number of other individual contributions.
At the year’s end there were more hopeful signs. Alan
 Johnston, making good on his promise to the IFJ to 
lend a hand in the campaign for news safety, issued
 a passionate call for media organisations to work 
together to build a culture of safety in his address to 
the New York launch of the International News Safety
 Institute in December.

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